There’s Lydia; we catch a glimpse of her
among the burning leaves of mid July.
She guides her horse with water wagon where,
at Gettysburg, are soldiers marked to die.
The men propped there by tree or death’s cold stare.
Alone, their broken, golden dreams are gone.
They cannot answer captain’s call to share
nor may they rise again as proud and strong.
See, there! She now approaches where they fell;
one lonely figure sent as spirit’s daughter.
A hot and humid morning’s quiet hell:
puts dying lips to cups of cool, cool water.
Her horse now stamps his foot as mid pale cries
she is the angel hears their final sighs.
(Lydia Hamilton Smith, born in Gettysburg, Pa., was the daughter of an African-American mother and an Irish father. When donations wither away for Civil War veterans, she uses her own earnings to help them. Lydia was born & died on Valentine’s Day, 1813-1884.)